I’ve learned a lot about podcasting over the last 3 years as the host of The PRO EDU Photography Podcast. I’ve easily spent over $100,000 producing them. I’ve made well over $100,000 in revenue from them. I’ve had an absolute blast recording each episode. I even once surprised Chris Knight with a live chicken I got off Craigslist in the middle of an episode. It’s opened so many doors and has been an amazing experience. What’s upsetting is how difficult it was to figure out.
When considering to start a free podcast I would recommend to first think about your end game. If your goal is to eventually make money then this article will give you a leg up and save you hours and hours of wasted time by helping you increase your margins.
When I say “profit” I am mostly referring to your time spent making it. Profit isn’t just about revenue but the time it takes you to produce an episode.
When deciding to start my podcast I wanted to focus on great conversations in a relaxed setting. It had to be “in-person” as I already felt that the marketplace was crowded. I want to start this article by illustrating where I went wrong, so you can know what to avoid.
In my quest to make a podcast that was strictly “in-person” it came with additional costs. It was an expensive decision but the conversations it created were far better than anything I could have gotten doing these interviews remotely from behind a computer.
Sitting in the same room with someone creates a level of intimacy that you just don’t get from a phone call. In producing the show, I noticed that I made several major rookie mistakes on gear that could have saved me tens of thousands of dollars. I want to share these tips with you so you don’t make the same frustrating mistakes.
I’ve learned about gear the hard way. In the first season of my podcast I used the very popular “Zoom H6 Portable Recorder” as the device to capture the audio. I thought that because the Zoom had 4 XLR channels and independent volume control that it would be a great portable and cheap way to conduct interviews. I was wrong.
I thought that the 6 RODE Professional Podcast Mics were the most important thing to invest in, and this was wrong.
The problem was audio bleed. We weren’t far enough away from each other so every mic was bleeding into every channel. It created a sound that needed a lot of work in post-production.
The entire first season of the Podcast sounded terrible and had to be mixed by a professional who had to keyframe every person that wasn’t talking. This was especially a nightmare when everyone was talking at the same time.
The Zoom H6 is an amazing piece of technology but not for this. It couldn’t have been a worse choice and you should avoid it with multiple person interviews.
Once I was sick and tired of paying someone to clean up the errors, I decided to invest in an audio board. I wasn’t sure which one I needed so I simply read reviews and solicited the advice from musician friends. Another bad idea.
A few musicians and audio experts I trust told me to get the Presonus StudioLive and use that. It did produce great sound but it was so costly for me to run that it became a burden and roadblock. It simply required so much time and additional crew.
I am not bashing the Presonus StudioLive. It’s also a great piece of technology for a variety of reasons. But it meant that I now had to bring another person to our interviews because it required a computer and extra software. I even hired someone to come to the studio and teach everyone how to use it. It didn’t matter. It was more expensive to use.
Using the Presonus meant that I couldn’t manage both the board and also engage in conversation while trying to mess with levels. When you start to add things like 3 more power cables, computers to capture the audio, software to manage inputs, outputs, backup audio, it becomes more likely errors will happen.
On top of all of this extra work, the audio files that were captured STILL needed to be mixed by someone who knew what the hell they were doing. The files were not ready to be posted. It was kind of like the equivalent of capturing a RAW image in a camera, it needs some post-production love to make it great. In the end it was simply too much production for what we were getting.
About a year ago I got an email from RODE about a new podcasting board called the RODECaster Pro. I just about had a heart attack. Could all of my problems have been solved with this? Yes, yes they were. It solved every problem I had and it paid for itself immediately.
RODE crushed it with this ultimate piece of technology that required no audio expertise. It was small, gave me great audio right out of the board, and had more features that I was looking for that made life easier.
Setup is easy as well. I select the name of the Microphone inside the board and whatever wizard algorithm they made ensures that the board is set to capture great audio based on the microphone you are using. That’s amazing.
So in the end I cannot recommend this enough. If you are a small one-man crew or larger mobile podcast team, I have yet to find something this user friendly and high quality. And it fits in your backpack.
Here is the basic gear you should consider when putting together a podcasting kit. This is the gear that I have used for over 120 episodes with zero issues.
This is a great at-home studio kit similar to mine above but with less portable mic stands. I do use this mic arm at home but don’t recommend traveling with them as they are harder to use on the road.
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